New to PFSense - Success on watchguard x750e HDD install

  • Just wanted to say I am loving PFSense so far. I got my hands on a retired Watchguard X750e device. Decided to use HDD instead of CF…
    I won't get into too much detail, but in the end it runs rock solid, especially after adding an extra 512MB RAM to the unit :-)


    Placed a 60GB IDE HD in a caddy, connected to a notebook and booted pfsense live cd, installed pfsense embedded to the HD (Custom install and made sure a swap was created)

    after install is done shut down unit and remove hdd, install hdd to watchguard. Ensure HD is jumpered to slave, Cable Select will not work

    Flash x750e bios to allow BIOS to output to CMOS (Instructions are here on the boards and on the net, really easy to do)
    Ensure HDD is all set to AUTO, keep CF card in the CF slot (Doesn't matter what is on the card, it just needs to be present)
    Change boot priority to the HDD
    save and exit bios

    boot unit, but watch console output, when you see the PFSense menu press 7 to drop to prompt
    set hw.ata.ata_dma=0
    boot -v

    pfsense will start booting, it will fail due to HDD references being wrong. when you are back to prompt (MOUNTROOT i think) I had to type:

    viola, pfsense booted. at this point you need to get the right files edited to correct the mount points and set the hw.ata.ata_dma=0 (Between the boards here and the pfsense online docs everything i needed to do this is there)

    reboot to ensure changes take effect.

    that's it, your done! I just really wanted to share my experience with this. It was alot of fun and am really enjoying the experience of using PFSense. If there is anyone else trying to get a WG x750e up and running drop me a PM, i be glad to help. The hardest part was finding the IDE adapter for the hard drive... tonnes on ebay for a few bucks.

  • Netgate Administrator

    Thanks for detailing your experience. It seems you may have been lucky with that HD. Others have been a lot harder to get working.
    See this thread for one users frustrating experience. Got there in the end.  ;)

    It seems some HD geometry works fine others trigger the bios bug that prevents larger CF cards booting. If you could post your working geometry that would be great, detected cyclinders, heads and sectors. Also does that agree with the label on the drive?


  • BIOS is as follows:
    for the slave (hdd)
    Access Mode = Auto
    Capacity: 60015
    Cylinder: 28728
    Head: 16
    Precomp: 0
    Landing Zone: 28727
    Sector: 255

    for the master (Original CF Card)
    IDE CHANNEL 0 Master = Auto
    Access Mode: CHS
    Cylinder: 980
    Head: 16
    Precomp: 0
    Landing Zone: 979
    Sector: 32

    Sorry, I don't have what is written on the drive for it's listed specs. it's a WDC WD600UE-00KVT0

    I really struggled at 1st with getting this to work until i found the ata.ata_dma=0 trick. Until i applied that setting pf would try to boot but struggled with accessing the drive.

    I am on day 5 of my install and no indication as of yet to any issues with the drive or file system.

Log in to reply